THANKS to the halo effect of factory-correct muscle cars, our little hobby of street machining has had its ranks swelled by people restoring/refreshing and cruising more modest timewarp stuff in the past few years. Few can afford $100K-plus for a race special, but the kid cruising a stocko Commodore, Kingy or Falcon 500 isn’t laughed at anymore. Isn’t fashion funny sometimes?
But even with these renaissance cars sparkling in the street machining spotlight, at the top end of town there remains the elite-type car builders who continue to inspire us with mind-bending builds such as this terrific green, two-doorconverted FB Holden sedan.
It’s owned by Peter and Judy Beauchamp, and a generation ago, it was simply the family truckster!
“We bought this about 28 years ago; it was all we could afford,” Judy explains. “When we bought it, it got a quick once-over – some paint and an interior clean-out to get it going. It was the family car for more than 10 years. The kids grew up with this car – Mum and Dad doing the runaround and dropping them at school. One day I even carried a cow in the back of it!”
The rebuild began about 15 years ago, and as with most long-term builds there was a soapopera script of love and hate, satisfaction and disappointments.
“We took it off the road with the intention to do it up,” Judy explains, “but it was never supposed to be this long! We got stuffed around a bit by a workshop. Three steps forward and one back – the usual story that many people seem to have when they’re building a car.
“But one day about 18 months ago my elder son Daniel said: ‘Mum – enough is enough. We need to get this finished. It’s been long enough.’ And that was the push we needed to get it done.” Hubby Peter takes over the yarn: “We did plenty here at home,” he says. “No shed! Just a double garage.”
The car was stripped and put on a rotisserie, where most of the floor was cut out. The plan was to install an HQ Holden half-chassis to replace the FB (and all pre-HQ Holdens’) bolt-on Y-frames; this work was performed early in the build by Jeff’s Chop Shop. Later, the front doors were stretched around 200mm by Camden County Customs, who did the tilt-front conversion, too.
As well as the door stretch, the front and rear quarter windows have been binned and the side glass replaced with special-build toughened panes. Get this – Peter said he paid less than $400 for the new made-to-measure glass.
The Lexus V8 up front was always part of the plan. “Choosing this was as much about doing something different as it was about power or performance,” Peter reckons. “We could have gone the usual small-block Chev or Holden or the LS route, but this one just had extra appeal for me. It’s all-alloy and has six-bolt mains. I’d seen these Lexus motors in other cars, and with double overhead cams and all that, they perform really well.”
The engine was bought in an imported half-cut. As the Fast Fours & Rotaries crowd learned two decades ago, an ex-Japan chopped-in-half car is a handy way of getting just about everything required – engine, hoses, fans, wiring and computer – to be shoved into something else.
THE Lexus 1UZ-FE engine is an all-alloy 4.0-litre quad-cam V8 that debuted in the first-ever Lexus LS400, launched nearly 30 years ago at the 1989 North American Auto Show in Detroit. With four valves per cylinder, the 3968cc (243ci) top-line Toyota-designed V8 delivered around 192kW, more than Holden’s also then-freshly injected 165kW and 180kW 5.0-litre V8s.
As well as alloy block and heads, the 1UZ-FE has six-bolt mains, a steel crank and rods, tough pistons (under useful 10:1 compression) and is almost perfectly balanced from the production line.
During the engine’s design phase in the 1980s, Toyota wanted to improve on its own impressive in-house reliability and durability standards, so looked to aviation specifications for new standards in quality control.Toyota’s aim was to not only match Mercedes, BMW and Jag with its new luxury sub-brand for the 1990s but blow them away. And these days swapping one of these early alloy V8s isn’t a silly idea!
“It was like a jigssaw puzzle,” says Peter of the engine’s installation. “Everything had to be considered with everything else.” Making the situation a little easier was the fact the FB’s ‘new’ HQ Holden rail-type chassis opened up a bit of engine bay space compared to the high sides of the original bay.
“We trial-fitted everything; we put the motor in and got everything running before disassembling it all and finishing it off,” Peter explains. “I had a bloke over at Smeaton Grange build it for us.”
That’s Aaron at Advanced Performance Machining. He rebuilt the Lexus V8 with a few upgrades: JE pistons, Kelford cams and ARP studs. The intake manifold on the standard Lexus isn’t too generous, so it was replaced with a built sheet-metal one, with forward-facing 90mm throttle. The turbos required fabricated manifolds, while the exhausts were fabricated in sections, linished seamless from front to rear.
Behind the Lexus is a transbraked C4 auto. Supplied by Rocket Industries, it’s good for 800-plus ponies and was fitted using a Dellow bellhousing. Peter makes special mention of the torque converter: It’s pretty much half Toyota/Lexus and half-Ford to suit the engine/trans combo and a streetable 2800rpm.
After having the car sit for three years elsewhere waiting for paint, the Beauchamps had Leo at Muscle Car Restorations in Blair Athol apply the colour. Peter gives him a big wrap, reckoning his wisdom and experience seems beyond his 26 years. “I delivered the car in primer, but he took it all off and started all over again,” he says.
The paint is House Of Kolor, but this particular shade of green is not from the usual catalogue! The interior is the work of X-Trim in Smeaton Grange. Beginning with Falcon ute seats and an empty cabin – with little tubs messing things up at the rear – the team crafted a gorgeous Biscuit leather interior. Summernats 31 was the car’s first outing, with the Beauchamps coaxed by the ’Nats judging team into presenting it as an Elite contender. Good idea! It scored an Encouragement Award and 2nd Top Custom behind Kylie and Adam Perry’s astonishing Tailspin – also an FB Holden. “I was asked to enter Grand Champion, but I said ‘nah’, not on a brand-new engine,” Peter says. He’s also mindful of the need to keep the car clean and tidy for more displays in 2018. “We’ve got Meguiar’s MotorEx in Melbourne and we’ve been invited to Red CentreNATS in Alice Springs, too.” But once the Beauchamps have got some kays under the tyres – and the tune sorted – they are keen to have a crack at Summernats Grand Champion in 2019. Bring it on!
Leo at Muscle Car Restorations; X-Trim; Camden County Customs; Darren Roe and Jeff Jensen for their fabrication work; Shaun’s Custom Alloy; Advanced Performance Machining; Peter Snell’s Protective Coatings; Hurstune; Daniel Beauchamp for installation of wiring, plumbing and instrumentation; all our family, and especially our sons Andrew and Daniel for always encouraging and supporting us and contributing in ways too many to mention, and their wives Jessica and Georgia for allowing them to spend the time with us on this project
Paint: HOK custom-brew green
Brand: Toyota/Lexus 1UZ-FE 4.0L DOHC V8
Induction: Sheet-metal intake manifold
Turbos: Twin T04s
ECU: Autronic SM4
Conrods: Standard with ARP bolts
Ignition: Individual coil-packs
Gearbox: Ford C4 auto with Dellow bellhousing
Converter: TCE 2800rpm custom-built
Diff: Ford 9in
Front: HQ chassis, CRS adjustable arms, Strange coil-overs
Rear: Four-link, Strange coil-overs
Brakes: 320mm discs (f), 300mm discs (r) Master cylinder: Under-dash
Rims: Intro Pentia; 18x7 (f), 18x9 (r)
Rubber: 215/40/18 (f), 235/40/20 (r)